Alicia Keys took the stage at Madison Square Garden during Sunday's MTV Video Music Awards to present the winner for "Best Male Video." But her remarks did not have anything to do with music videos, or MTV, or the industry, or anything, really, that's come to dominate the VMAs.

Keys noted it was the 53rd anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream Speech," and she wanted to share a poem.

It was a moment without the glitz and production we saw from every other performer. Instead, as Keys stood in a floor-length red dress and, in keeping with a vow she publicly announced months ago, little to no makeup, she recited these lines. They came in a mix of spoken-word delivery and a cappella singing:

If war is holy, and sex is obscene, then we got it twisted in this lucid dream.
Baptized in boundaries, schooled in sin, divided by differences sexuality and skin.
So we can fear each other. Hate each other.
We can break these walls. We can build these walls, between each other.
Baby, blow by blow, and brick by brick, keep yourself locked in. Yourself locked.
Oh, maybe we can love somebody. Maybe we can care a little more.
Oh, maybe we can love somebody, instead of polishing the bombs of holy war.

Here is the full performance:

Read more: